Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationNorthwestern U.
Grant numberGr. 9608
Approve DateApril 13, 2018
Project TitleKyweluk, Moira A., Northwestern U., Evanston, IL - To aid research on 'Beyond Quantifying Fertility: Class, Race, Identity, and the 'Egg Timer Test',' supervised by Dr. Thomas McDade
Preliminary abstract: Frequently branded the ‘Egg Timer Test’ or ‘Biological Clock Test,’ anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) screening for women is becoming widely available at low cost in the United States. Blood levels of AMH are understood to reflect a woman’s remaining ovarian reserve or egg supply, and thus her chance of successful ovulation and subsequent conception; average or above average values may indicate increased fertility. This project explores the cultural, social, and personal dimensions involved in a woman’s experience of undergoing AMH testing, focusing specifically on the narratives of women of color, poor, queer, and otherwise marginalized women who are accessing this new, low-cost fertility screening. Through immersive ethnography, I will document the role of AMH testing in women’s life narratives, as both a numerical index of future biological motherhood, and a potential site of life course reconfiguration. Paying close attention to how AMH testing exists in the current moment within the sociopolitical contexts of gender, work, class, and race, I will explore AMH screening as a proxy for understanding broader cultural shifts and evolving social expectations of women’s interactions with increasingly complex and readily available reproductive technologies. Methodologies are drawn from critical medical anthropology and include participant observation and semi-structured interviews to deeply explore how the relatively affordable AMH blood test reveals complex and dynamic narratives of testing, interpretation, and action. Ultimately, this project seeks to answer questions about AMH testing beyond its utility as a biological or biomedical value to consider the impact of quantifying fertility in women’s lives.